Blepharospasm treatment can be a savior for those who suffer from blepharospasm, or BEB as it is often called. What is blepharospasm? It is a rare neurological disorder that is characterized by involuntary muscle spasms and contractions of muscles around the eyes.
BEB stands for benign essential blepharospasm, which means that it is not life-threatening. While the symptoms may start out as a minor nuisance, for many sufferers, it progresses to the involuntary closure of the eyes and requires treatment.
Blepharospasm is a term that can be associated with any type of abnormal blinking or eyelid twitch. Some people with dry eyes suffer from BEB, and so do some people who have Tourette’s syndrome or tardive dyskinesia.
Tourette’s syndrome (TS) is a neurological disorder involving repetitive, involuntary movements and vocalizations called tics. Tardive dyskinesia is involuntary movements, most often involving the lower face. While blepharospasm is not life-threatening, it can be difficult to live with. Some sufferers experience forced closure of their eyelids – sometimes for hours at a time.
Treatment and prognosis of blepharospasm
Usually, blepharospasm symptoms come and go during the day. When a sufferer is asleep, they are not bothered by symptoms, but as soon as they wake up, the eye twitching and blinking begins again. The exact cause of BEB is unknown, but there is treatment for blepharospasm.
Each case of blepharospasm is different depending on the underlying cause. A doctor will help determine the best possible treatment of blepharospasm based on that underlying cause. For instance, if an eye trauma is part of the problem, then blepharospasm treatment will likely be different than treatment prescribed for someone who has Tourette’s syndrome or some other type of health disorder.
The following list looks at how to stop blepharospasm:
Stress management: Learning stress management techniques can be helpful for those who suffer from blepharospasm because stress and anxiety are known to make symptoms worse.
Botulinum (Botox): Made from botulinum type A toxin, when injected, Botox can disrupt nerve messages to muscles and cause paralysis. Normally, multiple injections are given above and below the eye. One to four days later, the paralysis starts. The complete effect occurs in approximately a week. The Botox treatment lasts up to four months. There can be some side effects, such as dry eyes, drooping eyelids, and double vision. A specially trained neurologist, ophthalmologist, or neuro-ophthalmologist should administer the injections.
Medication: If Botox doesn’t work, motility drugs can be used to control blepharospasm. Sometimes, medications such as diazepam (Valium) are used, but they have varied success rates.
Surgery: A myectomy is a procedure that involves either partial or full removal of the eyelid and eyebrow muscles that are responsible for squinting. This operation is usually only performed if Botox doesn’t work. Myectomy improves symptoms of blepharospasm in up to 80 percent of cases; however, some people find that they require repeat operations.
When it comes to treatment of blepharospasm with botulinum injections, research suggests that 90 percent of patients improve, although you have to keep in mind that continued injections are required. It is also important to remember that treatment for blepharospasm is often adjusted over time and patients may have other medical conditions that prevent them from undergoing certain treatments.
Natural treatment options for blepharospasm
There are some blepharospasm natural treatment options that can be considered. It is important that, if you suffer from BEB, you let your healthcare team know how you are treating your condition.
The following list outlines some potential natural treatments
Massages: Giving the cheek, jaw, and gum muscles a massage can sometimes bring instant relief to those who suffer from mild blepharospasm. There is a hard muscle near the back of the mouth called the masseter. This muscle moves up and down vertically. Using the pointer finger at the top of the masseter and pressing firmly on it can be effective. The pressing should continue on any tender spots of that muscle for 30-second intervals. People who have been successful with this type of massage indicate that they felt relief in three to four days.
Headband: Some people have reported that wearing a tight headband or baseball cap has been helpful in reducing the symptoms, at least temporarily.
Mouth movements: Exercising the mouth by chewing gum, whistling, humming, singing, or sucking on a straw is helpful for some sufferers. Others say that reading aloud works well for them.
Positioning: Closing your eyes and putting your head back or looking down
Diet: Avoiding caffeine, especially coffee, tea, chocolate, and soft drinks.
Dark glasses: Some people with blepharospasm are sensitive to light, so wearing dark glasses can be comforting. When indoors, it can also be helpful to rely on natural light whenever possible.
Meditation: Using meditation to cope with general stress or with stress associated with the condition can be helpful. Some people find just going to a dark place and focusing on their breathing makes a difference. Yoga and a long walk are other options.
Avoid drugs: Some drugs can aggravate blepharospasm, so figuring out which are bothersome and then avoiding those drugs can lessen the severity of symptoms.
Chiropractic: A chiropractor may be able to relieve eye twitching. Chiropractors are professionally trained in the realigning of bones and muscles in the body.
Acupuncture: Trained acupuncture specialists can insert needles into various points of the body. Many people find that acupuncture is effective in relieving their chronic pain and some have discovered that it can treat their blepharospasm. Acupuncture for blepharospasm would likely involve inserting the needles in the muscles around the eyes.
Hypnosis: This means that a person is placed in an altered state of consciousness. A hypnotherapist offers suggestions that will become part of the patient’s memory once the session is over. The idea is that the suggestions lead to responses that will help relieve symptoms.
Currently, there is no cure for benign essential blepharospasm (BEB), but there are about 50,000 Americans living with the rare disorder. Some of these cases are genetic, while others are not. Studies show that up to 2,000 new cases are reported in the U.S. each year. Getting effective treatment as soon as a diagnosis of blepharospasm has been confirmed can be very helpful, not only in physical terms but from an emotional standpoint as well.